Internet.org launches SocialEDU initiative in Rwanda

Internet.org launches SocialEDU initiative in Rwanda

The Internet.org collaborative today announced the launch of its SocialEDU initiative, with the aim of providing Rwandan students with free access to online education.

HumanIPO reported last year Facebook had partnered Nokia, Opera, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek to launch Internet.org, aimed at providing internet access to five billion people.

The SocialEDU initiative plans to create a learning experience based on local educational content which is accessible via handheld devices, while also promoting collaborative learning through the internet.

Facebook said it partnered with the Rwandan government, Airtel Africa, Nokia, Ericsson and edX under the SocialEDU project to address five key barriers to access by providing free content, free data, affordable smartphones, a localised social education experience and a government that supports innovation.

“Internet.org is about working together to remove barriers to access and give billions of people the power to connect to the knowledge economy,” said Javier Olivan, vice president of growth and analytics at Facebook.

“SocialEDU represents this kind of collaboration at its best.”

Facebook and edX will work together to develop a mobile learning app integrated with Facebook, while Facebook and Ericsson will collaborate to ensure the app does not consume too much data and will work efficiently on a 2G network.

Facebook said at the time of the launch of Internet.org more efficient use of data was crucial to getting more people online.

Airtel will provide free data for students in Rwanda participating in the trial for a full year to facilitate access to online courses from global education institutions including Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, TU Delft, Australian National University and ETH Zurich, with students encouraged to interact with other students and teachers online.

Nokia will be providing low-cost smartphones.

“We are honoured to participate in this noble initiative. Education is one of the key engines for economic and social growth across the continent, with Rwanda amongst Africa’s most respected countries for its outstanding development record,” said Christian de Faria, chief executive officer (CEO) of Airtel Africa.

“We will do everything possible to support this ongoing reform using Airtel’s technological capability in the data and mobile commerce environment, to facilitate Rwanda’s rapid progress.”

“Our affordable smartphones help people make the transition from simple mobility to more sophisticated experiences. Playing a role in helping students get access to these experiences, such as social education, through the SocialEDU initiative is truly an honour,” said Timo Toikkanen, Nokia’s executive vice president for mobile phones.

The Rwandan government is to play a role in further lowering prices to access by supporting innovative financing solutions, such as interest rate subsidies and micro-loan guarantees, as well as through the targeted use of its universal service fund (USF).

The government’s Smart Kigali initiative will also be expanded to provide free Wi-Fi to campuses across the country, and will partner with edX to develop local educational content.

“The government of Rwanda is excited to partner with Facebook to open up a world full of content and interaction to Rwandan students. The social education experience will accelerate innovation and propel Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy,” said Rwanda’s minister of youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana.

“We are committed to doing our part to make sure SocialEDU has the greatest possible impact in Rwanda. This is fully aligned with the government’s Broadband for All policy and the Smart Kigali Initiative, a public-private partnership that provides free wi-fi in Kigali’s most popular squares, buses, hotels, and public buildings.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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